Qualification methods are misunderstood

The most commonly known qualification method is BANT.

Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline. Good points of view, but commonly used wrong.

The problem is often that not even the customer necessarily knows the exact answers to these questions early in their buying process. Just because the different elements in BANT are unknown doesn’t mean you don’t have a great opportunity on your hands.

The other problem is that everything depends who you are talking to. Higher in the buyers organization you’ll find people that decide the budgets and when they spend money they invest. These stakeholders almost always secure funding for what they need if they want to purchase something. Below them you have people that spend the budgets that are set for them, and then even further lower in the organization you’ll find managers that ask to use the budgets of others or always have to get approval for even the smaller expenses.

The bigger the solution and the earlier the customer is in their buying process, the less likely they are to know the answers to BANT, especially if they have a position lower within the organization.

If you are dealing with people that don’t have any clue about any of the elements in BANT, then there is a good chance you are wasting your time. There is a compelling reason to get to power within the customers organization.

In general however, if we are creating demand and creating new opportunities, then BANT is useless for qualification purposes, but serves as guideposts to direct us to things we need to start understanding soon.

Many have asked, well why should we want to create demand? Why don’t we just work on deals that are mature and closer to closing?

As I wrote in an earlier blog (Don’t hide behind generic statistics), according to Forrester 74% of deals go to the sales person that has been able to impact the customers vision& requirements before the official purchasing process begins. Arriving late in the buying process typically means we end up competing on price with several other vendors.

For these reasons, BANT shouldn’t be used as a qualification method, but rather a compass that gives the salesperson an understanding of what they do not know yet, and guides them to think what they still need to figure out. The better the salesperson understanding is of each of the criteria is (in BANT) the stronger the opportunity becomes. Alternatively an increasing amount of information can also mean that the sales person has a better ability to stop pursuing the opportunity as well, which is not a bad thing at all either. The earlier the better, if you figure out that it’s not an opportunity worth pursuing.

Whatever the qualification method is, it should be used as a compass, not a black and white decision-making tool that defines whether we pursue an opportunity or not.

A few other methodologies I’ve come across are MEDDIC and SCOTSMAN, which fit better for larger deals. MEDDIC is a method used quite often in software sales.

MEDDIC stands for:

Metrics - What is the economic impact of the solution?

Economic buyer - Who would have the profit and loss responsibility for this decision?

Decision criteria - What are their technical criteria, service criteria, financial criteria etc?

Decision process-What are the steps that customer goes through to get final approval to purchase?

Identify pain-What are the problems they want to solve that are stopping them from reaching their objectives?

Champion - Who is the person who wants your solution to be chosen that will sell for you within the customers organization?

SCOTSMAN stands for:

Solution - Do we have something that fits the customers requirements?

Competition - Who are we competing against? Can we compete with them?

Originality - Do we have something unique to offer?

Timescales - Are we able to deliver a high-quality proposal in they time they want?

Size - Is the opportunity the right size for us that its worth the effort and it sits with our strategy?

Money - Do they have the budget to do this? If not yet, how do they plan to get this project funded?

Authority - Who will be involved in making the decision and do we have access or a relationship with the most important people involved in authorizing the purchase?

Need - Is there a compelling reason and need to buy the solution?